Custer graduated from West Point on June 24, 1861, ranking no.34 in his class of 34. He was the 1966th graduate of West Point.
George Custer was appointed Brigadier General at the age of 23 during the Civil War.
Custer had the highest casualty figures of any of the Union Divison Commanders during the Civil War.
Custer and his wife received the Appomatox surrender table as a gift from General Phillip Sheridan.
Countless paintings of "Custer's Last Stand" were made, including one made famous by the Anheuser-Busch brewing company.
His widow, Elizabeth, spent the rest of her life trying to further Custer's reputation, writing laudatory accounts of his life that portrayed him as a military genius, a patron of the arts and a budding statesman.
George Armstrong Custer
Custer was born in New Rumley, Ohio in 1839 and spent much of his childhood with a half-sister in Monroe, Michigan. Upon graduation from Alfred Stubbins' Young Men's Academy in Monroe in 1855, he moved back to Ohio to teach at the Beech Point School in Harrison County. In 1856, he petitioned Ohio Congressman John Bingham for an appointment to West Point. In 1857, he enrolled in West Point, where he graduated four years later at the bottom of his class. A few days after graduation, while he was on duty as officer-of-the-guard, he failed to stop a fight between two cadets. He was court-martialed, but saved from punishment by the outbreak of the Civil War and the urgent need for officers.
Custer did unexpectedly well in the Civil War, fighting in the First Battle of Bull Run and in the Gettysburg campaign. Although his units suffered some of the highest casualty rates of the Civil War, his fearless aggression earned the respect of his commanding generals and increasingly put him in the public eye. He received a battlefield promotion to General and personally accepted the white flag of surrender from General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox. He married Elizabeth Bacon at the Presbyterian Church in Monroe on Feb. 9, 1864.
After the war, he was stripped of his battlefield commission and returned to the regular army as a captain. He was assigned to Texas to restore order, a task he felt was beneath his abilities. In 1867, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in the 7th Calvary.This began his career as an Indian fighter. He was not well liked by his men for he worked them hard while he went off to hunt. In 1867, he was brought up on charges of abandoning his command ( to visit his wife) and having (other) deserters shot on the spot without a hearing. He was convicted of both counts and sentenced to one year suspension from rank and pay. But 10 months later, General Phillip Sheridan reinstated Custer to lead the campaign against the Cheyenne in the Oklahoma Territory.
He led the winter campaign that resulted in the massacre at the Battle of Washita on November 27, 1868, where 103 Cheyennes were killed, mostly women and children. Over 800 of Cheyennes' animals were slaughtered and their possessions burned. During this battle, Custer allowed a small detachment led by Major Joel Elliot go in pursuit of escaping Indians without first sending out his scouts. As a result, the soldiers rode into a group of of southern plains Indians camped in the immediate area. Custer returned to his post without even searching for his men. Their fate was not discovered until two weeks later when their remains were chanced upon. But because of Custer's popularity with the public, his superiors did not punish him for his actions.
1873, Custer was sent to the Northern Plains where he participated in
a few small skirmishes with the Lakota in the Yellowstone Area. In 1874,
he led a 1,200 person expedition against the Lakotas to the Black Hills,
whose possession, the United States had guaranteed just six years before.
In March 1876, he went to Washington and testified against the Secretary
of War over corruption in the Indian Affairs Department.. On May 2, 1876,
President Grant relieved General Custer of his command in retaliation
for his testimony about Secretary Belknap. However, popular disgust forced
Grant to reverse his decision on May 8, 1876, and Custer went west again
to meet his destiny at the Little Bighorn
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